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December 02, 2015


Not being certain of the meaning of "authentic" in the phrase "authentic Hitchcock moment," I will postpone answering that question and talk about the jokes instead:

-- to cuff his hero and heroine, leave the room and lock the door
-- to pose as the fat man in a weight-reducing ad that is espied if not read on a lifeboat full of the survivors of a shipwreck
-- to employ Otto Preminger to play the commandant of a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp
-- to suggest the act of fornication by showing a speeding train enter a tunnel
-- to kill Kim Novak twice, in both cases at the top of the church tower at Mission San Juan Batista in California

Obviously 3 is not a Hitchcock joke. It was bot Hitchcock but Billy Wilder who cast Otto Preminger in Stalag 17, and that is certainly an example of a Billy Wilder jest. But the other four are all echt Hitchcock. To pose as the fat man was his very clever way of appearing in "Lifeboat." The train entering the tunnel at the end of "North by Northwest" is a pretty broad joke but also an elegant finale, completing a metaphor introduced earlier in the film. I believe that H. handcuffed the hero and heroine of "The 39 Steps" so their feigned mutual antipathy would be less feigned. More complicated than sadism, erotic fixation, and narcissism is what happens to Kim Novak in "Vertigo." Does anyone else have thoughts?

Well, Raymond Burr does not sign a contract to play first base for the New York Yankees after the death of Gary Cooper in "Pride of the Yankees," which was not a Hitchcock movie. So professor I think your "red herrings" are pretty obvious yet pointing us in a certain direction -- for example, reminding us that Raymond Burr does appear in a Hitchcock movie, "Rear Window." (He is the villain, but he was always a heavy until he got to be Perry Mason). The other question or thought has to do with Gary Cooper: just being himself he would have been a perfect Hitchcock hero.
I agree with Justin re Kim Novak in "Vertigo." It's wild. That she dies twice in the same picture indicates an overlap of death and sexuality that is scary.

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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